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"Port of Shadows, " a 1938 French film, will be shown at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29

Professor to Host Free Old Town Theatre Film Series

French film ‘Port of Shadows’ to be screened Sept. 29

The Sam Houston State University Department of Mass Communication and assistant professor of film Grant Wiedenfeld will continue their ongoing film screening series at historic Old Town Theatre in downtown Huntsville.

The first of the screenings, “Port of Shadows,” is a 1930s French drama about an army deserter who falls in love and becomes entangled in an unfortunate turn of events. The free, public screening will be  Thursday, Sept. 29 at 6 p.m.

“These movies are fun to watch, and we also want to create a learning atmosphere around them,” Wiedenfeld said. “Some of us will share our knowledge about, in this case, 1930s France and French cinema. Others will share their impressions of the film’s characters and situations.”

The three-film series will be presented in connection to Wiedenfeld’s “Film History and Criticism” course; following the screenings, Wiedenfeld will discuss each film with the audience. His course covers the entire history of film making since the 1890s.

“It’s a small glimpse of the variety of human expression that happens in the movies across the globe and throughout the last century,” Wiedenfeld said. “Watching old and foreign movies is a great way to explore the wider world, especially if you don’t have a private jet or a time machine.”

In the coming months, the series will also feature “Bicycle Thieves,” a film set in post-World War II Italy about the events following a bicycle theft, on Oct. 18, and “Love and Basketball,” a romantic drama about two young people following their dreams of going pro and trying navigate their relationship, on Nov. 29. Both will begin at 6 p.m.

“’Love & Basketball’ is a great example of American independent cinema that has flourished since the 1980s,” Wiedenfeld said. “Besides being historically important for that reason, it’s a great coming-of-age movie about the personal lives of college students and athletes that I think any college student or parent can relate to.”

The series continues a standing partnership between Old Town Theatre and the SHSU College of Fine Arts and Mass Communication, and Wiedenfeld feels that such a venue can only add to the experience.

“The Old Town Theatre is a wonderful historic venue in Huntsville that has a tradition of showing movies for decades,” Wiedenfeld said. “These old movies would have been new at Old Town way back when. What better place to watch them, with updated projection equipment?”

The students of The SHSU Film Society will sell concessions at all of the screenings as a fundraiser.

“We love being able to help keep the spirit of the theatre alive,” said Film Society President Khoi Nguyen. “We also appreciate being able to raise money for new equipment and having a great place to showcase our members’ works.”

The highlights of the events, for Wiedenfeld, are the post-film discussions, during which Wiedenfeld will field questions from the audience and create a dialogue around the themes or subjects in the films.

Wiedenfeld hopes that even members of the community who are not taking his class will be able to appreciate the history and significance of the highlighted films.

“I most look forward to people’s feedback about the films. Even if I’ve seen it a dozen times before, I always learn something new,” Wiedenfeld said.

For more information, contact the College of Fine Arts and Mass Communication at 936.294.2777.

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